In life, there are people who have the ability to just do things better than everybody else.
There's no rhyme or reason for it, they just have this knack, a God-given instinct. Einstein mastered physics. Mozart made music. Alexander Ovechkin scores goals. Roger Federer plays tennis. And Baltimore Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome finds linebackers.
From the first wave of great Ravens 'backers, Ray Lewis, Peter Boulware, and Jamie Sharper, to the newer generation such as Adalius Thomas, Bart Scott, and Terrell Suggs, Newsome has turned Ravenstown into Linebacker Central Station.
The latest find in Newsome's pipeline is Jameel McClain, an undrafted rookie out of Syracuse in 2008, who is now looking to step in the shoes of the now-departed Scott.
McClain was the only undrafted free agent to make the roster last year and immediately made an impact as a situational pass rusher and special teams demon. He set a Ravens record with two safeties and recorded 2.5 sacks. As the 2008 season wore on, former defensive coordinator Rex Ryan even created special packages just for McClain.
McClain is competing for a starting spot in 2009 with former third-round pick Tavares Gooden and figures to continue with his duties as a pass rush specialist and special teamer.
Interview Questions for Jameel McClain:
1) How do you size up the competition between yourself and Tavares?
2) Both you and Tavares are competing for Bart Scott's old job at inside linebacker. Last year you played more of an outside linebacker role. What is the difference between the two positions?
3) Did you play on the inside at Syracuse?
4) How has the defense adjusted to Greg Mattison's defensive style as opposed to Rex Ryan's so far?
5) What is the difference between the two coordinators?
6) Is Coach Mattison keeping the packages that Coach Ryan put in for you last season?
7) Did you feel like you had something to prove last year being undrafted? How do you keep that motivation this year?
8) How have veterans like Ray Lewis and Ed Reed helped you as a player?
9) You're a Philadelphia guy, was it special getting that safety against the Eagles last year? Were the Eagles your favorite club growing up?
10) How did you end up playing at Syracuse?
11) What was the experience like for you, going from 'Cuse to playing in the AFC Championship Game in one year?
12) Is there still a little bitterness on the team after coming so close to going to the Super Bowl last year? Or have you guys put the loss to the Steelers behind you?
13) What do you think the team needs to do to climb Mt. Pittsburgh this year after losing to them three times last year?
14) Finally, did you know you are the Ravens all-time leader in safeties after one season?
Thanks Jameel. Good luck this season!